Environmentalists have called for a pause before the future of two council-owned golf courses is decided.
Councillors are being asked to recommend awarding a 25-year lease for Waterhall Golf Course to a rewilding company when they meet on Thursday.
But, subject to further enquiries, the preferred bidder for Hollingbury Golf Course currently looks likely to be another golf course operator.
Both Friends of the Earth and Extinction Rebellion want the decision to be postponed so that a full consultation and wildlife audit can be carried out.
Chris Todd from Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth said: “We welcome the fact that the council is considering accepting a bid for conservation grazing at Waterhall.
“However, the bid proposals are vague and we are concerned about the council signing a long lease which will effectively rule out further improvements.
“There is no consideration of community food growing, statutory public access or of the detrimental landscape impact of the existing buildings within the officer’s report.
“While we don’t think many people object to golf continuing at Hollingbury, changes to the layout are needed to enable grazing of the hillfort to become viable. Without this the species rich chalk grassland risks disappearing for good.
“There are also issues with the use of chemicals on the course especially with two reservoirs nearby.
“The problem with this whole process is the secrecy around the downland estate. Despite there being strong public interest in the Downs, there has been a complete lack of engagement with residents.
“The ending of these tenancies has been known about for years, yet the council has done nothing to find out how people want these sites managed in the future.
“It’s the same every time the council either tries to flog off downland or leases come up for renewal. This culture of secrecy has got to change.”
Extinction Rebellion staged a march on Saturday from Hollingbury Hillfort to the city centre and is also preparing to hand in a petition which has now been signed by more than 4,500 people calling for both sites to be rewilded.
Campaign spokeswoman Claudia Fisher said: “We urge Brighton and Hove Council to reconsider its plans for our Downland. After all, it declared a climate and biodiversity emergency in December 2018 – but what’s the plan for dealing with it?”